The Number One Training Objective


For over a decade, much of Corporate America has agreed on their number one training objective. The banking industry has been no exception in agreeing to this same annual training project, and yet we continue to postpon the most impactful learning we could provide employees. What is the number one training objective, and what could be done to move this initiative forward?

For this exercise to work well for you, please stop reading for a moment and retrieve your current training plan. Take a few minutes to review all of the training initiatives that are on the list and their ranking. Now, where is "Management / Leadership Development" on your list?

The reason the number one training initiative in America has been "Management / Leadership Development" is that we greatly reduced, and in some case completely stopped this skill development 15 years ago! The last generation to have been afforded this skill development on a regular basis was the Baby Boomers, and they are retiring in some cases at the rate of 10,000 people a day!

Enter the X Generation and the upcoming Y Generation into both management and supervision positions. They are developing their management styles and leadership techniques from past and current managers; which is okay if these folks are emulating are any good at managing and leading others themselves.

Management Development is commonly referred to as the interpersonal skills between a manager and an employee. It includes: Behavioral Interviewing, Setting Performance Expectations, Giving Constructive Feedback, Coaching for Optimal Performance, Handling Difficult Conversations, Motivation and Recognition, Corrective Actions and Evaluating Performance.

Leadership Development is commonly referred to as the interpersonal skills between a manager and other managers and / or leading business units. It includes: Leading Change, Creating Vision and Mission, Developing Strategy, Financial Analysis, and Formal Presentation Skills.

While only some of your management team performs Leadership functions, all of your management team performs management functions. Here, it is important to develop all supervisors and managers in Management Development first. Later when they are identified for success planning plans that they will begin developing their Leadership skill set.

So why are these skill sets so important to your operation?

Admittedly there are people who naturally know how to communicate well with other people and have developed workable skills that have proven to be successful for them, but this is a very small group of people. Most of your management team needs to develop skills in each of the stated competencies over a period of time with a lot of practice.

This means that a one day exposure to management development training is a waste of time and money. Good management training development is a series of workshop events with a lot of repetitive practice over months and even years. And this is why most companies postpone management development. It takes too long!

However, without these skills managers hire the wrong people for their team. Team members fail to achieve desired performance objectives because they are not aware of what the goals are and miss the boat. Most employees need motivation and encouragement to exceed performance and brought back to earth when they stray from the path. Good management communication is essential to good performance.

Poor management communication not only allows employees to fail, it can also cause rifts that HR must settle. It causes unnecessary resignations, which cause another round of firing and potential firing. People join a company for opportunity and career, but usually leave because of the relationship with their manager.

Poor Leadership skills lead to confusion, frustrations and failed operations. When people assume key roles within the company but lack the leadership component of the equation, they are destined to either struggle unnecessarily or fail completely.

How can HR Lead this Initiative?

HR Leaders that can sell the benefits of well-trained managers because it often reduces the busyness of their HR function. They are not managing as many employee relation and performance issues. They are focused on less recruiting to replace and more on growth and success planning. They are seen as more strategic and less functional. Thus they become more indicative to the company.

HR needs to be the advocate for in-depth training that develops each skill into a learned behavior. They need to not only avoid quick fix training solutions, but advocate for blended learning and practical applications that build good behaviors. Failure to do things correctly will lead to people who received training but did not develop skills. Just because a person attends a training workshop does not make them able to perform. Yes, they were trained, but not trained well enough to make a difference.

The number one training objective can be achieved, but first we must recognize the benefits for moving forward, and take steps to end the annual procrastination.

James K Hopkins